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Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics - Experiment

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Important information for proposers

All proposals must be submitted in accordance with the requirements specified in this funding opportunity and in the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) that is in effect for the relevant due date to which the proposal is being submitted. It is the responsibility of the proposer to ensure that the proposal meets these requirements. Submitting a proposal prior to a specified deadline does not negate this requirement.

Supports experimental research on the fundamental quantitative understanding of atoms and molecules, their interactions with each other and their interaction with light, and the application of AMO methods to fundamental science in some other areas of physics.


All proposals submitted to the Physics Division that are not governed by another solicitation (such as CAREER) must be submitted to its division-wide solicitation: Division of Physics: Investigator-Initiated Research Projects.


The Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Experimental Physics program (AMO-E) supports research that can be categorized by four broad, sometimes overlapping, sub-areas of the discipline: (1) Precision Measurements, (2) Ultracold Atoms and Molecules, (3) Optical Physics (including the ultrafast regime), and (4) Atomic and Molecular Spectroscopy or Collisions. Ions are included as a subset of Atoms and Molecules. The focus of research in the AMO-E program is on the fundamental quantitative understanding of atoms and molecules and their interaction with light, and the application of AMO methods to fundamental science in other disciplines in the Division (e.g., Nuclear Physics, Gravitational Physics, and Elementary Particle Physics). Examples of activities supported directly by the AMO-E program over the past decade include: quantum control, cooling and trapping of atoms and ions, low-temperature collision dynamics, the collective behavior of atoms in weakly interacting gases (Bose-Einstein condensates and dilute Fermi degenerate systems), precision measurements, the effects of electron correlation on structure and dynamics, the nonlinear response of isolated atoms to intense ultra-short electromagnetic fields, atom-cavity interaction at high fields, and quantum properties of the electromagnetic field.

More recently, the Program has increasing interest in precision measurement proposals to search for new physics beyond the Standard Model, to explore the classical-quantum boundary and the fundamental nature of entanglement and quantum coherence, to advance the foundations of quantum measurement and sensing, to probe the quantum vacuum (using ultraintense lasers or the internal Coulomb fields of highly charged ions), and to use controlled collections of cold atoms to simulate physics which naturally occurs in fields such as Condensed Matter Physics or Astrophysics.

NSF recognizes that some research projects within this Program, such as precision measurement projects, may require more than three years to realize demonstrable research outcomes. For these and other projects that might be better served to be on a cycle that is more well matched to the natural time scale of graduate student research, PIs are encouraged to consult the program officers above to discuss the possibility of submitting a proposal of 4 or 5 year duration.

Some AMO-related activities are supported primarily by other NSF Programs. Proposals focused on plasmas should be directed to the Plasma Physics Program or the NSF/DOE Partnership in Basic Plasma Science and Engineering. Proposals focused on condensed matter systems should be directed to the Division of Materials Research, which contains the Condensed Matter Physics Program and the Electronic and Photonic Materials Program. Applied AMO proposals are supported by the Engineering Directorate, particularly the Electronics, Photonics, and Magnetic Devices Program. The Chemical Structure, Dynamics, and Mechanisms Program within the Chemistry Division supports proposals on molecules. Experimental and theoretical AMO proposals on Quantum Information Science should be directed to the Quantum Information Science (QIS) program. Proposals for large equipment can be made to the Major Research Instrumentation Program. All of these other programs coordinate the AMO aspects of their proposal portfolio closely with the AMO-E program.

Principal Investigators (PIs or co-PIs) who already have an active award or pending proposal in the Physics Division are asked to contact the cognizant Program Directors before considering submitting a proposal for another concurrent award from the AMO-E Program. 

Program contacts

John Gillaspy
jgillasp@nsf.gov (703) 292-7173 MPS/PHY
Kevin Jones
kejones@nsf.gov (703) 292-7732 MPS/PHY
Anthony G. Calamai
acalamai@nsf.gov (703) 292-4594

Awards made through this program

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Map of recent awards made through this program